London: India’s plans for next week’s first Test against England have been disrupted by concerns over the form of Shikhar Dhawan after the opener was dismissed for a second duck in the warm-up match against Essex. Dhawan was expected to partner Murali Vijay at the top of the order for the start of the five-Test series at Edgbaston before he returned a pair in this drawn three-day encounter in Chelmsford. His place is now under threat after facing only four deliveries in preparation for the challenge of taking on Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad with the new ball in Birmingham. Dhawan is likely to be replaced at the top of the order by KL Rahul, who was expected to bat at No 3 in the first Test.
Chinaman Kuldeep to partner Ashwin?
India will have an equally tough decision over their bowling attack. In terms of spinners, R Ashwin is assured of his place after overcoming the minor finger injury he sustained on Thursday. After sitting on the sidelines for the first two days, the off-spinner got through five overs on the final morning without any apparent trouble. Ashwin is likely to be partnered by the left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who conceded 24 from his sole four-over spell in this match.
Despite being kept in the field for 94 overs by an Essex who eventually declared their first innings on 359/8, India sent down only 11 wicketless overs of spin. Ravindra Jadeja appears the most likely spinner to miss out. India also have a difficult call over their seamers, with Ishant Sharma, Md Shami and Umesh Yadav fighting for two places as all-rounder Hardik Pandya is set to feature in the first Test. -Agencies
A reprieve for Pujara
That means a possible reprieve for Cheteshwar Pujara, who was expected to be dropped following a poor run of form that has seen him average only 14.33 in six County Championship matches for Yorkshire this summer. Pujara hardly made a compelling case for his inclusion in Chelmsford, scoring 23 on the final day after making one in the first innings. It leaves India with a selection headache at the top of their order.
‘Kohli’s extra motivation could be dangerous for Eng’
Chelmsford: Former England captain Graham Gooch reckons Virat Kohli’s “extra motivation” could prove to be dangerous for the home side in what will be a tight Test series due to the prevailing heatwave in the country. The first Test starts in Birmingham on August 1.
“He (Kohli) is a top-ranked player in the world at the moment and I think a dangerous customer for England as he has the motivation to improve his record in this country. Every player wants to be known to be able to play well in all sorts of conditions,” Gooch told BCCI.TV in an interview.
A discussion on Kohli led to inevitable comparison with his English counterpart Joe Root and according to Gooch, what sets the duo apart, is their ability to play match-winning knocks under any circumstances. “Well, they are both world class players across formats of the game. They are both match-winning players. I love watching Virat Kohli and Joe Root bat. They both play all round the wicket and they are both positive, very focussed and I like to see that.”
Gooch termed India as an “improved side” that has struggled in the past but now look ready to shed the tag of “poor travellers”.